The Congressional Budget Office projects that recent tax cut legislation and spending packages will increase the federal deficit by $139 billion, raising it to $804 billion in 2018. In December Congress passed a 1.5 trillion tax-cut package and early in 2018 approved a $400 billion budget. The CBO projects the US will return to a trillion dollar deficit by next year. Last week Congress submitted a plan to make up the difference with cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. The above slides were obtained by the Congressional Budget Office. You can find these slides and more on their website.
Last Tuesday, House Republicans released a budget plan that would make large cuts to Medicare. The budget plan intends to privatize Medicare ; thereby hoping to eliminate $537 billion out of the program over the next decade. Congress argues that privatization of Medicare will bring down costs.
Seniors eligible for Medicare would receive a voucher rather than a Medicare card. The voucher would be used to purchase private health care plans. Private plans could be more expensive – leaving seniors to either foot the extra bill or change to plans that provided less care or limited the available providers. Either way, the cost-shifting is born by the seniors.
Another plan (which has been a suggested many times by conservative representatives) is to turn Medicaid into a block grant for states. Currently, Medicaid is a joint state/federal partnership. Budget analysts hope to save $1.5 trillion dollars by limiting the number of people or the benefits available to people through Medicaid.
While no specific provision was made to cut Social Security programs, Congress proposed that the President submit a plan under “expedited procedures” to reform Social Security if it did not meet a 75 year actuarial balance. This procedures suggests it will be “fast-tracked” and not subject to public scrutiny.
The National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare opposes the following proposals:
- Ending traditional Medicare by converting it from a defined benefit to a defined contribution program;
- Raising the Medicare eligibility age;
- Increasing costs for Medicare beneficiaries through higher cost sharing and income-related premiums and by restructuring the program and Medigap in ways intended to reduce federal spending;
- Repealing the Affordable Care Act, which has extended the solvency of the Medicare Part A Hospital Insurance Trust Fund;
- Transforming the Medicaid program from a federal/state partnership into either per capita caps or a block grant program, which would result in arbitrary cuts to vulnerable seniors and other individuals;
- Repealing the Medicaid expansion, which would hurt states financially and negatively affect low-income adults who need access to health care services;
- Reforming Social Security through program changes that are enacted through “fast track” legislative procedures, depriving Americans of their right to full participation in the development of reform proposals affecting their lives.
Seniors and people on disability receive monthly payments through Social Security and also receive medical coverage through Medicare, Medicaid or a combination of both. A loss of benefits radically affects people who are no longer able to work and living on greatly reduced income. Now is a good time, as we approach November elections, to ask candidates about their position on Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.